Friday, 17 February 2023

Reception for Governor's Civics Awards

Rod and I are pleased to welcome you all to Government House to celebrate the 2022 Governor’s Civics Awards.

On Proclamation Day last December, it was my great pleasure to present the majority of primary school awardees with their medallions at the City of Holdfast Bay ceremony, at the Old Gum Tree in Glenelg.

Congratulations once again to these students.

This evening we have gathered to present the remaining awards to individual recipients, mostly secondary school students, as well as winners in the Group and Schools categories.

I thank these students for their hard work and for engaging in one of the most important aspects of being a South Australian – active citizenship.

In my former role as an Australian diplomat, I observed how governments work in many other countries, and I know that our system of government, while not perfect is pretty good.

I also know it is a better system when we all exercise our rights and responsibilities and put forward ideas for improvement.

We are a State of many firsts:

  • We were the first place in Australia to grant women the vote, and amongst the first in the world.
  • We were founded on the principles of a free democracy which encouraged diversity, free thinking and free enterprise.
  • The City of Adelaide was the first elected town council in Australia.
  • We were the first Australian colony to adopt the legal provision that evidence from Aboriginal people could be accepted in courts of law.

I mention only a few, but historic events such as these are something of which we should all be proud.

They are a firm foundation on which to carry forward our State’s tradition of fairness, democracy and social innovation.

As Governor, it has been a pleasure to visit schools across South Australia, city and country, state, independent and Catholic.

Rod and I plan to continue these visits, not only to talk about the role of the Governor and our system of government, but to encourage students to feel empowered and to take action as young citizens.

While spending time in schools, I have been struck by how future-focused they are, actively preparing students for the uncertainties and possibilities of the world.

Students, I trust that preparing your entries for the Governor’s Civics Awards has taught you about the privileges and responsibilities we have as Australian citizens, and I hope you are putting this knowledge into practice.

For example, it was wonderful to see Prospect Primary School’s entry, which focused on changing the name of the Stranger’s Gallery in the House of Assembly to the People’s Gallery.

After writing to their local MP, parliament voted on the matter and the name has been changed.

As part of our school visits, Rod and I are also encouraging teachers and students to get involved in the civics awards.

This year I’m pleased to report we had a 28 percent increase in the number of schools entering, as well as a 40 percent increase in the number of students participating.

Our entries from rural communities, and students of multicultural backgrounds, is also increasing, all of which is greatly pleasing.

Entries for the 2023 awards are now open, and information is currently being distributed to schools and is available online.

I encourage everyone – teachers, students, parents – to spread the word about the awards, and if you would like, to follow me on Instagram and Facebook @governorsouthaustralia. Much of what I post acknowledges active and engaged citizenship in all its many forms.

Principals and teachers, thank you for taking the time to learn about the awards and build them into your civics curriculum.

Students, congratulations once again on receiving an award in 2022.

Service is the primary route by which most South Australians visit Government House, and if you continue your journey as active citizens, no doubt many of you will make further visits in the years to come. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Coming events